Posts tagged education
Posts tagged education
I’m fresh off my third week of student teaching. I’ve already done 2 of my required 20 full time days because my teacher has been out twice and left me with the duties. It’s been… interesting. Both days my teacher took off were days with the kids I don’t know as well just because of the sheer number of students.
The first day she took off, I had a 10th grader sass me a couple of times. After a discussion with the principal (who told me, “He’s new to this school, and he don’t know how we work here. I’ll fix that. Just write him up for disrespecting authority”), he has been great for me. On Friday, he even said, “I’ve been good today, haven’t I, Miss J?” That was nice.
I had my initial meeting with my CT and university supervisor. My supervisor is supposed to come watch me teach either this coming week or the next for my first evaluation. I’m excited/nervous, and I’ve already decided that I’m doing a Macbeth lesson with my big group of seniors because they are my babies and I know them the best. I just have 18 more full time days (minimum), 3 teaching evaluations, one PWS, and a professionalism evaluation, and I am good to go.
All the other teachers at my school keep asking me if I still want to be a teacher and if they’ve made me cry yet. The answer to both questions is yes. I mean, this is a tough placement. The kids are averaging 6th grade reading levels in the 10th through 12th grades. A lot of them, particularly the 10th graders, have behavioral problems, some stemming from academic issues and some just because of lack of discipline at home or in lower grades. They test me on a daily basis, but when they get something that I’m trying to tell them, it’s so rewarding. I know that when I graduate I probably won’t go for a job at the same kind of school that I’m at right now. It’s stressful. It’s difficult. It’s frustrating on multiple levels. The kids act like they’re doing me a favor by showing up most days. Maybe when I’ve gotten more experience I will come back to this type of school. But I know right now that I’m too soft to keep this up for more than a semester. I will either go too easy on them or let them crush me (or both).
That is not to say that I’m not enjoying my time at the school. The seniors are so sweet, and they are great to work with. They’re inquisitive and funny. The other teachers, administrators, and staff have been welcoming and helpful. It’s a close-knit community, and I love that. I’ve only come home feeling defeated once in three weeks, and I’m still alive.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I really gave how students feel about me much thought.
I mean, it’s nice when they like you; it makes the work easier and all, but I don’t sit up at night thinking about how to get them on my side. I’m not the world’s greatest teacher by any manner of means, but I like my students, I like my job, and I think that makes all the difference.
When I say that I like my kids, I mean I respect them as human beings, I am organized and orderly, I hold them accountable for their work and actions, I’m patient (mostly), I set good boundaries (they know I’m not their friend, but their teacher), I have a sense of humor with them, I listen to their worries and to advise them when asked, and I really know my subject area content. They believe I can make them better readers and writers, and that faith goes a long way when we get to the trickier material.
I can count on two fingers the kids who, over the past ten years, really really went out of their way to be memorably unpleasant. And hoo boy, they’re the ones who are memorable.
- The nineteen-year-old sophomore (uh huh) from four years ago who offered (quite politely, now that I think about it) to stab me when I asked him (again) to take off his hat, pull up his pants, sit down and get to work.
- The spoiled-rotten honors-sophomore from six years ago whose helicopter-parents supported him when he wrote an essay that he read aloud about how I shouldn’t be a teacher and that I’d probably gotten my job just because my mother negotiated it for me (he’s the reason, btw, that if this baby’s a boy, he’ll never, ever be named Jack). I sat through that reading with a smile on my face and thanked him graciously when it was over. It was the easiest essay to grade EVER. Whew, he was a nasty piece of work.
And that’s it, really.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been cursed at, called racist, and a whole pile of other things that teenagers say/scream/holler/whisper-passive-aggressively when they’re trying to hurt you. But they’d do that to anyone; it’s not personally directed at me.
The thing is: it doesn’t hurt me. They’re teenagers. I expect them to have wide-swinging emotions, hormonal highs and lows, and I expect them to say things that they don’t mean. It comes with the territory, you know?
And since I’ve seen everything they can do and heard everything they can say, nothing shocks me anymore and I can listen to their delivery with a straight face, thank them for their ideas, and then move on with the lesson.
All told, I’ve probably worked with nearly 2000 students over the past ten years. They all have a range of quirks that make them entertaining at best or interesting at worst.
They make me laugh. They inspire me to be creative. They get me to read interesting books and listen to music I never thought I’d like but do. I think about them all the time in a “hey, I think so-and-so would like this movie, I need to ask them if they’ve seen it” kind of way.
So really, when I crunch the numbers, 2 kids who hated my guts out of the nearly 2000 who liked/loved/many-of-whom-come-back-to-visit isn’t really a number I need to worry too much about.
I have 120 names to learn, which is going to be a challenge because names are not really my thing to begin with.
Thursday was probably the most interesting day. During second block all the seniors who hadn’t yet passed the graduation exam were called to the office to receive their scores. Ten out of the twelve students in my class left the room. They all came back either smiling or crying. I was so excited for the students who’d finally passed, but there were a couple of girls who still failed one or two sections, and it was heartbreaking.
Also on Thursday, I got to witness a meeting between my CT, a student, and the principal regarding ongoing behavioral issues. This meeting just confirmed to me that the principal is fantastic and that my CT is highly regarded in the school. I’m not sure if the student will still be at the school by the time my full-time teaching rolls around.
Friday was the first day that students asked for me by name when they needed help. It was a good feeling. I also helped one of my seniors sign up for the ACT and gave him some test-taking tips.
The experience has been good so far. It’s going to be a huge challenge, to be sure.
Sometimes I need this reminder, and perhaps some others do as well:
Whether it’s canceling a cool science experiment, a special activity, a holiday party, or an outdoor learning game, hard lessons—those that profoundly disappoint students—can be the best medicine for your classroom.
Your classroom is a two-way street.
Hard lessons send the message to your students that your classroom is a two-way street. You give your best for them. That’s a given. But the expectation is that they must give their best for you.
Spending this lovely Saturday night making posters for my classroom. (!!!)
This one makes me think of Tom Haverford which is obviously why I made it.
Omigosh. My high schoolers would think this is lame and love it at the same time. I must copy this.
Done and done.
I was in grad school, taking a lit seminar undergrads were also enrolled in for 400 level credit. This guy realizes I’m an English teacher and every week is pumping me with questions and for info.
He wanted to finish his BA in English and then get a transition to teaching license. He said he just wanted to teach lit. He didn’t want to teach writing.
“We’re just going to talk,” he said. They were going to sit in a circle and the kids would share their feelings about the text, and there wouldn’t be tests either.
There was no convincing him it wasn’t going to happen. Indiana requires writing and lit taught together. You can do some discussion, but kids need guidance. You have to have some form of assessment. It doesn’t have to be a test; but a project, speech, paper, or something has to be there to demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and critical thinking.
He then had the gall to say, “We’ll, your class sounds boring.”
I said, “It sounds like you want to be Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. If you remember, things didn’t actually go well for him. And I’ve been employed for six years.”
I ignored him for the rest of semester, and I really hope he didn’t get into a teaching program.
What is punctuation’s job? #Cool
How do you cover your chest? I own several tank tops/camis, but no matter how short I make the straps, the top always seems to work its way down. I’m not usually personally concerned if there is a little bit showing (I mean, they’re boobs, and I have them), but I am very personally concerned about being seen as professional during my student teaching and in general. Any tips?
E.T.A: I thought it was clear when I originally posted this that the tank tops are for use underneath other tops that I own that would normally be too low-cut on me. A number of direct and (quite frankly, rude) indirect responses have indicated to me that my assumption was wrong. The tank tops are not my main clothes, but rather boob-covering devices that aren’t working for me.
[This is a reblog of my original post found here.] I know a lot of you are about to start student teaching in the coming weeks as people begin to go back to school. I was right where you were a year ago. It’s insane to think about. So I’m putting this back out there. I don’t claim to be an expert - this is just a collection of things I would have appreciated hearing when I started student teaching. Feel free to ask me any questions if you have any!!
This may seem super basic - and I laughed at the obvious-ness of this, too - but if you’re anything like I was at the beginning of student teaching, you’re going to be shy, anxious, scared (read: terrified), and uncertain. My natural instinct is to be a fly on the wall and watch. I don’t ask questions, I don’t volunteer. You’re going to want to know so much all the time and the only way you’re going to know this is to ask questions. Don’t be afraid of asking too many or being annoying (I know I did). Your cooperating teacher(s) (CTs) want you to do well and they want to share all their knowledge with you - at least, I hope so! Don’t be afraid to interrupt your CT and ask to chat for a moment. It may take a little bit to feel comfortable interrupting them, but you’ll get used to it (and you’ll have students interrupting you soon!) But you’ll never realize how much simply asking questions will help you until you do. I struggled SO MUCH until I started asking for help.
Asking for help will not make you look stupid or weak. Recognize your weak areas and work on them.
Get to know the other teachers/secretaries/librarians/janitors/etc.
Hopefully you’re in a building where the other teachers are just as friendly toward you as you are to them. My very first day, I got there at 7am and sat through a department meeting where I met every person in the English department. They were all friendly and offered a helping hand whenever I needed it. Throughout the semester, I asked them for advice, shared my own lessons and materials, shared stories of crazy things my students said or did. I connected with my coworkers and it made sitting at my desk way less awkward.
Also, don’t forget about those other people in your building! I asked the librarian for help so many times! She came in to my classroom and helped me teach about research and citations to all three levels of my classes. I made an effort to visit the secretaries and be extremely friendly when I needed help with something or when I had to talk to a dean or the principal. I had lunch duty and talked to the janitors who were cleaning the cafeteria and treated them like invaluable resources - because they are. Don’t forget about the support staff. Treat them better as a teacher than you or your friends might have treated them as students. They are gold.
Try anything once.
Your CT may have some advice for you that you might not agree with or you think won’t work — try it anyway. If you plan an awesome lesson, it may soar or it may flop. You won’t know unless you try. Hopefully your CT will let you try anything (within reason, of course). Your students won’t be ruined for the rest of their lives if your lesson flops. That’s when you reflect. Which leads me to…
You may very well have to do journaling of some sort for your university. Don’t just write the bare minimum to get it done with. Take this time that you’re being forced to use and really think about what you did that week. Keep a notebook or a lesson plan book and write down what did and didn’t work from that particular lesson. That way you can go back and have lessons to use when you get your own classrooms. You’ll amaze yourself at what you can come up with if you look back at other lessons. Also use reflection time to observe other teachers and see what works for them and how you can adapt that for your own students.
Make sure to take time for yourself — SLEEP.
Sleeping enough will sometimes be the difference between an amazing day and a horrendous day. Make sure you give yourself a bed time and try to stick to it as much as you can. Go to bed earlier some days if you need to. I went to bed as early as 7:30 one day. I was sick (sicker than I should have been because I wasn’t sleeping much), exhausted, emotional, and stressed. I got close to 10 hours of sleep and felt human the next day and was ready to conquer the world. Listen to your body and what it needs. I can’t stress the importance of sleep enough.
Along those lines: don’t forget to eat lunch and dinner. It’s okay to take thirty minutes from grading or planning during the school day to eat lunch and have an adult conversation. It’s okay to come home after a long day and sit on the couch for an hour and veg. Don’t do it all the time, but don’t feel guilty if you need to do something mindless now and then. I made an effort to read a chapter of a book each night. It was my “me” time - and usually all I could get through before falling asleep anyway.
Err on the side of caution in regards to your clothing.
It pains me to say this - as a woman and a feminist - but young women are under more scrutiny for their clothing than men. This doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable or have fun, but don’t overdo it. If I would wear it to the bar on a Saturday night, I didn’t wear it, at least not alone. I paired dresses with tights and cardigans, Saturday night tank tops with cardigans. I had fun with it so that I wasn’t wearing slacks+blouse+cardigan all the time, but I also made sure my butt or my larger chest wasn’t hanging out. I was nervous to wear jeans for the first time, but felt more comfortable on casual Friday in them than out. Don’t be afraid to ask your CT/other teachers or your university supervisor about casual Friday or day-to-day clothing for student teachers.
Edited to add: Don’t give personal information to students.
They will ask. It’s natural that they’re curious. I chose to give them my college email address because I wanted them to be able to contact me and the school I student taught at didn’t give me an email address (not all will). That email address has my first and middle initial in it followed by my last name. They guessed and guessed my first name until my CT said it during class one day in a slip-up. I never had a problem with them calling me by Ms. H instead of my first name, but that might not be the case with all students/classes. It probably goes without saying that you don’t want to be adding them on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr. Don’t even answer if they ask if you have one. (Thanks to ishouldbewhat)
Be careful about what you post on social networking sites (Tumblr included!)
We all love stories about your students, good and bad alike. But be careful about what you post. You’ll be frustrated. You’ll be annoyed that you told Johnny over and over and over to turn in his homework and then he turns in something that’s all wrong. Do not post that on the internet. Someone in my graduating class was removed from their placement for doing something like that because parents found out. Don’t take chances. Get rid of Facebook alltogether (or create a “professional” one for your first and last name that way when students search you, they find something super boring and won’t be tempted to dig further).
C.A.S.E — Copy and Steal Everything
Not even joking about this. If your CT is willing to share resources with you, you better copy that and keep it for yourself - even if you don’t think you want it now. I have a plethora of material that I never even touched for Romeo and Juliet that I took from both of my CTs and I ended up making most of my own materials. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s nothing wrong with taking things your CT has and using them as your own. Take things other teachers may offer you — but pay it forward as well. Share your own resources with your CTs and other teachers in your building.
I love my higher ed friends.
A part of me just died.
Hug a #Teacher
I was especially interested in this tool:
Sometimes, however, teachers need to have a conversation with parents that goes a bit deeper than upcoming due dates. For these calls, it is helpful to remember that the positive phone call is as important as the negative one. I have a colleague who sends positive e-mails to her students who impress her or are just pleasant human beings, and she always CC’s the parents. Building this positive context goes a long way if problems arise later on.
To keep track of these interactions as well as the student behavior that prompts them, I highly recommend Dash4Teachers. There really isn’t anything quite like it out there.
You can tap smiles or frowns for each day, jot down notes like “asked great questions!” or “was terribly disruptive,” and then tap “Call best contact.” You then select options like “Call completed” or “Left a message.” My favorite feature is the ability to sort by least recent calls, most frequent calls, and positive or negative. The more students we have, the more possible it is for one to “slip through the cracks.” Using this intuitive and simple app goes a long way to ensuring we’re helping all of our students.